It may seem patently obvious, but you can’t gain ground with a sixth-place finish when the two drivers you’re chasing are finishing first and second.
That’s the source of Clint Bowyer’s frustration. With a strong car and a promising fuel-mileage strategy, Bowyer was a potential race winner in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, but, ultimately, he was no match for Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup leader Jimmie Johnson and second-place Brad Keselowski, who crossed the finish line 1-2.
In his first season with Michael Waltrip Racing, Bowyer held onto third in the standings with two events left in the Chase, but dropped 10 more points to Johnson and fell to 36 back. Barring catastrophes to both drivers ahead of him, Bowyer, who finished sixth Sunday, will have to wait until 2013 for another shot at his first championship.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Bowyer said. “You keep having these top-10 runs, flirting with the top five week in and week out, and, unless you’re winning these races every week, you just can’t gain points. Even if we were winning right now, it ain’t enough to run them down for a championship.”
Bowyer had more than a faint glimmer of hope Sunday, as he watched Johnson and Keselowski battle side by side at the front of the field, precariously close to losing control of their cars.
“I thought they were going to wreck each other, but they didn’t,” Bowyer said wistfully. “It would have been awesome! I really did think they were going to wreck each other.”